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A Step in the Right Direction

Pfizer and GE’s In Vitro Diagnostics Team Up to Work on Cancer-Fighting Immuno-Therapies

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Dividing cancer cells, 3D artwork.

Imagine a world where cancer treatment does not involve chemotherapy or radiation. This seemingly distant dream may be not so far off thanks to our expanding knowledge of the immune system.

Emerging research suggests that our immune systems are crucial to fight established tumors, yet cancer can be so evasive and dangerous because of its ability to “hide” from the body’s immune system and grow unnoticed at rapid rates.

However, pharmaceutical companies and researchers now recognize that the relationships between immune pathways and tumor cells are critical to the fight against cancer. If there is a way to elicit a stronger immune response to cancer, could it actually halt tumor growth? We call this idea immuno-oncology, and it’s quickly becoming a clinical reality for many individuals with cancer.

GE IVD’s MultiOmyx™ service has been gathering data on tumor characteristics for years. In parallel, Pfizer has been working on developing drugs that strengthen the immune system to attack cancer cells. Now, the two will combine their expertise to make better drug development decisions: Pfizer will send biopsy samples to GE’s In Vitro Diagnostics where they will be processed through MultiOmyx for in-depth analyses and biomarker mapping. Equipped with data from this analysis, Pfizer can draw more informed conclusions about the type of cancer they are trying to treat, which targeted therapies could treat that cancer best, and which are the most appropriate patients to participate in clinical trials.

“Cancer can draw on many different mechanisms to inhibit immune responses,” said Craig Davis, Senior Director, Early Development, Translational and Immuno-Oncology (EDTO). “Being able to view immune-tumor dynamics at the level of resolution offered by MultiOmyx will help us understand which mechanisms are in play. Such understanding will help us develop therapies that optimally strengthen the immune response in the tumor itself.”

Samples analyzed through MultiOmyx will generate data about the identification and localization of biomarker expression.  This is important so that critical details of a specific cancer biopsy can be determined, and suggest the application of the most optimal therapeutic regimen.  Using biopsy samples supplied by Pfizer, GE IVD will attempt to answer critical questions.  For example, “Do an individual’s immune cells migrate to a particular tumor-forming locale? “ And, “what are the cellular features of a strong anti-cancer immune response?”  Pfizer can use this information to continue to develop more effective therapeutics, and subsequently, improved personalized treatments for cancer.

“Using MultiOmyx, pathologists can get a detailed picture of a tumor’s cellular composition from just a single slide-requiring less tissue while still gaining important information about how the immune system is fighting the tumor,” said Cindy Collins, CEO of GE Healthcare’s In Vitro Diagnostics. “We’re pleased to be able to offer this novel technology to Pfizer to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of developing better treatments for cancer.”